Why Hahn 'cringed' at Sharks' Eklund being compared to Kane

William Eklund

Sharks first-round pick William Eklund was extremely impressive in his first NHL training camp, leaving San Jose no choice but to include him in the team's opening night roster. The No. 7 overall pick of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has surpassed even the loftiest of initial expectations and has garnered some considerable praise, being compared to one of the biggest stars of the last decade.

But Sharks longtime broadcaster Randy Hahn wants to pull back on the reins a bit and not place unfair expectations upon Eklund from this point forward. 

"I cringed when someone brought up Patrick Kane's name in comparing him to the way Eklund plays, but you know, Patrick was a year younger," Hahn said on Sharks Hockey Digest's 2021-22 season preview. "He was 17 in training camp and then turned 18 right before the season started, and in William's case, he's 19 as the season starts. So, there's a difference there.

"I hate to, you know again, to repeat myself, compare Eklund to Patrick Marleau, but he certainly has earned the opportunity to get this nine-game audition, and everything I hear is that if the Sharks do decide he's not quite ready for the rigors of the NHL after nine games, they would be more inclined to send him back to Sweden rather than send him to the American Hockey League. And we'll wait and see if that happens."


Why nine games, you ask? Once Eklund plays his 10th NHL game, his entry-level contract with the Sharks starts kicking in. So, they have up to nine games with which to make a decision on their prized rookie before determining if he'll spend the entire season with the big club, or potentially head back to his native Sweden for another year of seasoning.

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While Hahn doesn't want Sharks fans to get too far ahead of themselves with the comparisons, he understands why everyone seems to be so excited about Eklund.

"It's a good problem to have, he brings a level of skill to the forward position that the Sharks don't have enough of," Hahn added. "And you just don't find it by accident. You find it by drafting high, and the Sharks with the seventh pick, the way it looks right now, drafted pretty well. And maybe by the end of this season or at least after the nine games, we'll agree with what I've heard a number of people say, the Sharks getting him at seven was a steal. We'll see."

The Sharks open the season Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets, and Eklund will be in the lineup. How long he stays there, though, remains to be seen.

To listen to the full season preview, click here.